Evolving humanity, emerging worlds
Manchester, UK; 5th-10th August 2013
Trust in super-diversity
Location University Place 2.219/2.220
Date and Start Time 06 Aug, 2013 at 09:00
This panel focuses on how peoples' manipulation of trust and its opposite, alienation, has become a new form of discourse in the recently emerging environments of political, medical, ritual and religious super-diversity in East Africa.
Super-diversity is not the same as pluralism. For example, by super-diversity, we refer to more than religious pluralism, which denotes a number of religious practices co-existing in East Africa. Diversification or super-diversification implies mutual borrowing of ideas, practices and styles between them, and by implication more differentiated strategies adopted by religious actors in search of truth, good luck, cure or safety etc. In researching truth, people move between trust talk and alienable talk based on mistrust or the loss of trust, from the past to the present. But how is the discourse of trust or distrust affected by the newly emerging socio-cultural super-diversity of people?
In current globalized risk societies such as Japan, which experienced a triple disaster in 2011, trust talk about safety is getting impossible in everyday life. People are forced to trust some evidently untrustworthy political, cultural and even scientific discourse. What can turn talk based on trust into talk that is alienating, and then what can restore reliability in trust ? What is the true nature of trust in super-diversity?
This panel explores these questions by focusing on relationships between actors engaged in economic, political, medical, ritual and religious practices in East Africa. Based on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in East Africa, we will provide insightful and contestable discussions of trust in emerging areas of super-diversity in the region.
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.
Violence, rumour and elusive trust in Mocimboa da Praia, Mozambique
This paper will address the lack of trust in the aftermath of riots in Mocomboa da Praia, Mozambique, by looking at rumour and the ways people value and trust information in unstable environments.
Following riots in 2005 the political leaders of Mocimboa da Praia in northern Mozambique began a joint effort to bring together the parties involved in the conflict and bring peace to the town. However, in spite of their efforts, in the months that followed the riots rumour and contradictory gossip seemed to be the norm and the threat of more violence loomed large in the town. Lack of trust in news and information became the norm, as did the reliance on old networks of friends and relatives for more reliable information. These networks were often defined along ethnic, political and religious lines, and fragmented the fabric of the town.
Based on fieldwork conducted in Mozambique between 2005 and 2007, drawing in particular on participant observation, and extensive interviews, I will discuss the elusive nature of trust which follows sudden violence. I will also address the role and relevance of continuous, and often contradictory, spreading of rumour as a deterrent to the establishment of peaceful trust relationships between the various parties involved in the violence, and the ways in which different sectors of the population value and trust news and gossip during unstable times.
Of grief, greed, and God: collective and individual mourning and political contention after Zanzibar's ferry disaster
This paper analyses the reactions of individuals, families, and the state to the sinking of a passenger ferry in Zanzibar in September 2011, focusing on tensions between a shared overall rhetoric of fate and hushed discourses of political contention circling around greed and corruption.
In September 2011, an old, overloaded passenger-cum-cargo ferry sank on its journey to Pemba, reportedly killing about 3000 people. Juxtaposing a woman's search for her 12-year-old sister and narratives of survivors and the bereaved, with the government and wider society's response , this paper analyses how individuals, families, and the Zanzibari society at large mourned for the dead and simultaneously discussed questions of responsibility. While this event was clearly man-made, a shared rhetoric of fate cast the disaster in terms of an 'accident' in discussions of those who mourned the loss of family members and in the government's portrayal of the event. Simultaneously, in hushed conversations among ordinary people, tropes of greed, corruption and witchcraft were evoked, and bitterness about moral decline, deep mutual mistrust, and the lack of humanity among the rich and powerful was expressed. Expectations that the government would instigate a thorough investigation and draw the necessary consequences were disappointed when less than ten months later another ferry sank, again killing hundreds. This has shattered whatever residue of trust in the government there had been. The paper addresses the tensions between the de-politicising force of a fatalist discourse and the solace provided by couching the events in terms of God's will; unable to tackle the real causes and address their grievances through open political contention, I argue that the rhetoric of fate and trust in God is a strategy to cope with the suffering, and provides a sense of security in a world that is increasingly uncertain.
The diversity of human relationships including new "tribal" awareness in Kenya: the influence of the internet access through mobile phones
It is said the 2007 post-election violence in Kenya was caused by existing "tribal" conflicts. Yet, "tribal" awareness became more obvious afterwards through the influence of the internet. I explore what roles mobile phones are playing in the construction of human relationships among Nandi people.
After the 2007 presidential elections in Kenya, serious violence broke out in urban areas especially in Rift Valley Province. Media reports attributed the cause of this violence to "tribal" conflicts. But, according to people in the Province, "tribal" antagonism was not necessarily the cause.
Interestingly, it was post-crisis that "tribal" awareness became more conspicuous. Moreover, some people transferred the emphasis of their identities from the "Kalenjin" group - formed in the 1950s political movement - to "Nandi", one of the "sub-tribes" of "Kalenjin". How is this kind of "tribal" awareness constructed?
Addressing this question, I focus on the way mobile phones are used in everyday life. Mobile phone usage has become widespread, creating a new information environment. Especially in urban areas, mobile phones are increasingly used to access the internet for information, including the origin, history, religion, and culture of one's "tribes". Also, in most cases, such information is shared more anonymously or impersonally over the internet, or kept to oneself, rather than being shared with family and neighbours, or those in direct contact. Contrastingly, in rural areas mobile phones are used mainly for calling family and friends. We can think of their relationships via mobile phones as an extension of existing face-to-face relationships in everyday life.
Employing ethnographic description, this paper questions how, in these conditions, the nature of trust based on human relationships among the "tribal" community is changing within the same "tribe"? How will this affect people's mutual alienation and trust in everyday life? Furthermore, what will occur with such diversity of human relationships?
Trust is to belief as alienation is to doubt: religious life and everyday life in East Africa
Social process is premised on cross-cutting ties of mutual indebtedness and credit. Religious and spiritual exchanges make up a similar network. When trust in them breaks down, can 'secondary elaborations' restore faith in people and spirit, and when does scepticism lead to disbelief?
Various peoples in East Africa, and perhaps peoples everywhere, live a dual life as creditors and debtors. Bridewealth payments are prolonged, cattle exchanges deferred, land borrowed, settled but subject to reclaim, and money and commodities are lent and exchanged. Any one person may be beneficiary or claimant in this network of cross-cutting credit and indebtedness, and social process is premised on this duality. Relationships with God, spirits and ancestors rest on a similar network of deferred promises and expectations. Disputes occur when agreements become too prolonged and mutual trust breaks down. Similarly, spirits and sometimes even God are scolded for their lapsed or forgotten promises. The concept of 'secondary elaboration' is supposed to rescue the gods, spirits or the occult from judgements of failure, so that 'belief' in oracular powers continues. The western concept of 'belief' has itself been judged to be a western epistemological imposition. But all peoples suffer broken trust and alienation, and, likewise, this paper suggests that they all also sometimes reject what we can translate as 'belief', either in other people or in spiritual entities and forces. What are the implications of this claim for scepticism among increasingly diverse populations?
What is the source of power?: A Case of the Evangelized Witch in Eastern Uganda
In order to depict the diversity of witchcraft in postcolonial Uganda, this paper grapples with the case of a Japadhola born in 1932 in the Uganda Protectorate who grew up as a second generation Christian,subjectively embraced Christianity, and was surrounded by rumours of witchcraft.
This paper seeks to depict the diversity of witchcraft in postcolonial Uganda, grappling with the case of a Japadhola born in 1932 in the Uganda Protectorate. Although this man, named A.C.K., grew up as a second generation Christian and subjectively embraced Christianity, he was surrounded by rumours of witchcraft. He achieved eminence with the guidance of a witch who possessed the mystical power of a soothsayer (jathieth); he was cursed by the dead (tipo) and by the people (lam) who groaned under his tyrannical rule. After the early death of his father, A.C.K. began to work as an assistant in a cooperative union; he was eventually promoted to the position of state minister. He seems to have attributed these successes to the divine guidance of the church, but the local people saw them as products of witchcraft. The huge tombstone of his father, which was a historic structure in the area, was, for example, regarded as a symbol of sorcery or witchcraft. Since people did not share the custom of building large tombstones and memorial chapels for someone who was not a Christian saint, it appears that these constructions were not the products of religious faith but of the obsession with ancestors and the traditional cosmology to protect his family against witchcraft practiced by others. Therefore, the intricate situation of postcolonial Africa forces us to assume that the exemplar of objects of Christianity, such as tombstones with crosses, chapels, and even churches, may be appropriable for the fetish of witchcraft.
Trust and civil society: contemporary activism in urban India
"Civil society" consisting of the urban middle-class is a new social phenomenon in India. Trust in politicians has been challenged by civil society activists. This paper examines how ideas and forms circulate between the "political" and "civil" societies and how they generate social reality.
Since the 1990s, India has experienced radical changes due to economic liberalization and political decentralization; correspondingly, new kinds of social spaces, which cut across communities—caste, religion, language, etc.—have emerged. "Civil society" consisting of the urban middle-class is one such social space. This paper illustrates the characteristics of the new activism of this civil society and examines how it uses and influences the notion of trustworthiness.
One of the main objectives of the new civil society movements is to "recover" the city's public spaces and "protect" them from the "encroachments" of slum dwellers and hawkers. Scholars have attributed the activists' orientation toward a "world-class" aesthetics to India's neoliberal turn and the rise of a new middle class. This explanation, however, overlooks the formation process of this new activism, missing continuities in its credible ideas and forms, differences among them, and their circulation.
"Apolitical" civil society activists claiming to represent "citizens" and a "vote-bank politics" discourse have challenged trust in traditional and allegedly outmoded party-based politicians claiming to represent communities. In actual campaigns and activities, despite their explicit differentiation from "politics," civil society actors use Enlightenment ideas, forms, and methods borrowed from various realms, including the political.
This paper explores how these activists develop and maintain trust in their own social efficacy. When community and political solidarity are seen as inadequate, what inspires the trust that underlies their activism? The generation of a new social reality can be seen with this quandary in civil society campaigns.
Trust in being Ujanja: The business practices and fellowships of urban petty traders in Tanzania
I argue the trust in being Ujanja (cunningness) through analyzing their unique business practices and fellowship of urban petty traders in Tanzania. I explore how petty traders exercise Ujanja to create the "trust" which enables them gambles their life on the possibility of the uncertain situation.
The various difficulties in the process of Tanzania's rapid urbanization, such as inadequate social amenities and the increase in unemployment, number of squatters, and crimes resulting from poverty, are faced by other African countries as well. Most urbanites sustain their lives by conducting unstable, informal businesses. There is, thus, great uncertainty in urban Tanzania.
Urban petty traders in this time of uncertainty tend to develop peculiar knowledge; the Swahili word for this knowledge is ujanja, which refers to cleverness or cunningness. Analyzing the unique credit transaction system and fellowship of urban petty traders in Tanzania, this paper discusses the trust involved in ujanja. The credit transaction system described in this paper is called Mali Kauli and is operated by middlemen and retailers. This system enables traders to carry on their businesses. It also plays a positive role in building mutual trust in relationships where the possibility of trickery is high. In this paper, we show how traders do not always try to reduce the business-related uncertainty by establishing strong social relationships and stringent rules to avoid betrayal. In contrast, they regard the uncertainty of their relationships and urban life as resources against which they can cultivate trust. On the basis of the trust they build, they gamble their lives in the possibility of uncertain situations.
Broken trust and mutual alienation in three emerging areas of super-diversity: post-Fukushima Japan, Sudan's borderlands and East Africa
Fukushima nuclear accident has not only shattered Japanese blind trust in nuclear professionals, industrial circles, politicians and the mass media but has also created mutual alienation among ordinary people. This paper seeks to disclose and displace their alienation through comparing three cases.
This paper is concerned with devastating events. Three cases I take here appear quite different in regional terms, but they have many things in common: trust has been broken; the manipulation of trust has led further alienation among the people; the problem has not been solved yet; and I have been involved in all three cases with a different degree of participation.
Fukushima disaster is not simply caused by the mismanagement of TEPCO but it is said to involve the defects in the makeup of the whole social fabric. In any case, the government's crude attempts to avoid a panic have only made people more suspicious about authorities and even served to divide people into pros and cons, and created mutual alienation among them to an unprecedented level.
The 2011 ill-prepared secession (so-called independence) of southern Sudan from Sudan created a huge number of internally displaced people of diverse ethnic origins in the borderlands. Some 200,000 IDPs fled their homelands because of the bombing attacks by the northern army. They now stay in a few extremely crowded makeshift camps with little water, food and medicine. But they have no space to alienate each other; they can only try to maintain mutual trust for survival.
As will be presented in this panel, devastating events have recently occurred in the emerging environments of economic, political, medical, religious super-diversity in East Africa. By comparing these three cases, I seek to explore diverse forms of broken trust and the possibility of displacing alienation.
Super-diversity: competing for religious space in East Africa
In East Africa established Muslim and Christian groups face competition from new groups. Locally rallies challenge the other faith group using each other's scripture. At the same time transnational religious movements, international organisations and new media compete for religious space.
In East Africa the established Muslim and Christian structures are facing competition from new groups. This has led to inter and intra religious tensions and religious space being contested at different levels. At a local level rallies organised by both Muslims and Christians challenge the other faith group using each other's sacred texts (the Bible and the Quran). At the same time new actors are entering the scene with transnational religious movements competing for space in the religious market place. The space is also challenged by international organisations through large scale campaigns and new media.
The paper will examine these different levels of super-diversity which will be exemplified at the local level by an examination of mihadhara (public debates) where Muslims and Christians use each other's scripture to persuade each other of the truth. Transnational groups including Tabligh Jamaat and Assemblies of God will serve to exemplify the new actors challenging the established religious structures. It will also look at the approaches used by selected international groups including Reinhard Bonnke and Christ for All Nations (CfAN) and Zakir Naik and Peace TV.
Between Mystery and Trust: An Emerging Issue of Prophecy Among the Nuer
In post-independent South Sudan, Nuer people have to cope with diverse discourses (democracy, development, disarmament) and also with diverse Nuer actors (political elites, returnees, traditional elders). But a dead Nuer prophet has re-emerged as the trustworthy figure shared by most of the people.
For the past decade, Nuer people have experienced various kinds of social transformation via development, democratization, widespread inter-tribal wars, and disarmament. Now, in the new independent state of South Sudan, Nuer people are embracing other diverse Nuer actors with different backgrounds. It is in these diversity laden circumstances that a dead Nuer prophet and his prophecies began to re-emerge and enthrall the myriad Nuer actors, regardless of age or educational backgrounds.
Nuer prophets and their prophecies have played an important role in Nuer history. Among them, Ngundeng, who died in 1906, is the most prominent figure. Legendary actions and songs from his lifetime are now the focus of re-interpretation in relation to people's current concerns: not only the unprecedentedly devastating current 'inter-tribal' wars, but also the design of a new national flag and the way of voting in the referendum. In consonance with context, Ngundeng's prophecies are being re-interpreted as a trustworthy form of 'hope' and 'future'.
Yet, the trustworthiness of prophecy is reliant on a 'mysterious' correspondence between the actual situation and the prophecy itself. How can a trust be constituted in the fluid realities faced by diverse Nuer people? This paper suggests that to share the discovery of the mysterious correspondence between the situation and the prophecy plays an important role in building a trust by diverse Nuer people.
Trust in tension: how the traditional people rely on religious others in everyday practice among the Giriama/Mijikenda of Kenya
I will explore trust in tension between the traditional and the Christian among the Giriama living in the Kenyan coast. How the Giriama rely on others in everyday practice. Transgression of the Giriama rules will be a crucial point for discussion.
The Giriama/Mijikeda peoples living in the Kenyan coast are known to have been resolute not to convert to Islam even after living among the Swahili sphere of influence for more than four centuries. Neither have they shown a lot of enthusiasm in Christianity unlike their counterparts in the up-country majority. The Giriama resoluteness to both foreign religions is due to several reasons, one of which is their self-sufficiency in their traditional religion.
Second is their understanding of the process of proselytisation or conversion. These two words, proselytization and conversion, do not exist in the vocabulary of the Giriama, instead they use the word ku-angira dini, 'to enter into a religion', which has a negative connotation of abandoning one's culture and enters into another culture. In the traditional sense, those who have moved out or converted are no longer regarded as a Giriama. Meanwhile, the Giriama converts look down upon the traditional Giriama as backward, primitive, and evil.
There is, therefore, a tension between these two groups whenever they meet as evidenced during certain life-cycle rituals, such as burials and weddings. In contrast the Christian Giriama and the traditional Giriama are living together in everyday life in the same village or location.
I will discuss how the traditional Giriama trust religious others such as the Christian Girirama in everyday practice by focusing on transgression of socio-cultural rules among the Giriama society in the Kenyan coast.
Waiting for 'Beba': trust talk and alienation talk about super witch-catchers in the Kenyan coast
Super witch-catchers, who can catch witches and override their magical powers, have appeared for a moment and then have vanished out of sight repeatedly in the Mijikenda societies of Kenya. I explore how people's talk of trust and alienation about witch-catchers has been continuing and changing.
In 2007, a local family of the Mijikenda peoples near Malindi was waiting for Ali Beba who emerged as a new super or charismatic witch-catcher( muganga wa kuvoyera) in the Kenyan coast. But one year later, trust talk about Beba had changed rapidly into alienation talk about his eradicating power over witches. This kind of story on traditional healers is not entirely new but somewhat new. Beba means 'to carry' or 'to transport' in Swahili language and it became Ali's nickname as a witch-catcher because he can find a witch and then carry him/her on his back in a public space. One of my Mijikenda friends said, "Beba is amazing! When Beba found and caught a witch, a witch started to climb on Beba's back by himself automatically. Beba can make a witch feel ashamed in public! It is widely known that Beba is a most trustful healer in the Kenyan coast and also his grandfather is Kajiwe who worked as a legendry witch-catcher in Kenya. So, we are waiting for Beba in order to kick out witches from our homestead." After a while, Beba's reputation has been declined and people have started talking doubtfully about Beba's magical power. In the end, his medical centre at Malindi has closed down. Are people now waiting for another Beba? I will focus on why and how the Mijikenda peoples go and return between trust talk and alienation talk about super witch-catchers, such as Beba and Kajiwe through overviewing a brief history of charismatic traditional healers with the diversification of East Africa. The Mijikenda is niether alone nor unique, but just a bit obvious. How could we possibly think of the mix, trust and alienation, in diversity or super-diversity?
This panel is closed to new paper proposals.